Saturday, 23 May 2015

Alex Ronald - Alien Threat!

 

Not many people know this, but the Mighty One suffers from terrible, terrible piles. In fact, they're so bad, he can't sit down and has to levitate. Surprising then, that Mek Quake of all erm... people, was kind enough to treat the Mighty One to a lovely new purple pile cushion. A heart warming image captured by amazing artdroid Alex Rona...

What? That's not right? Oh...  

Right, take 2! Tremble Earthlets, as intrepid artist Alex Ronald goes undercover to give us a revealing expose of disgusting working conditions in the Nerve Centre. Zero hours contracts, Rigellion Hotshots and he constant threat of Mek Quake. Ian Duncan Smith would be proud!

I absolutely adore this cover, it's genius! That Tharg is perfect and you can't beat the ABC Warriors! Mek Quake looks absolutely terrifying here! I would give my right arm to see Alex provide the art on a Meknificent Seven strip.

Over to Alex to tell us about the creation of this cosmic cover "Tharg gave me three options for this one, Tharg controlling electricity bolts, whipping the droids or standing with Mek Quake. Much as option two appealed to my twisted mind I chose option 3 and the chance to do a second ABC warrior after January's Savage cover..."

Here is that wonderful cover for those of you with sort memories...

Alex re-creates that Michael Jackson Pepsi ad... 

Alex continues "First draft had him with a hologram of the 2000ad logo providing some nice up lighting. I dropped this idea because it would have effectively created three logos on the cover and the pose wasn't overly inspired."

Tharg's rubbish firework put him in a  right old huff. 

"After a rummage through past progs I found a nice image by Carlos of Tharg cross legged and levitating above London. This provided the pose I needed to make the image a bit more special."


 "Quaequam Blag! Burt has been messing with the teleport controls again!"
 
 Mek-Quake loved his Tharg toy.
 
"I created both Tharg and Mek Quake within Z Brush and blocked in some background details using custom made and library props."

"These 3D parts are then exported into another package for assembly."

"Humbug!" 

Tharg in mid-poo 

 After eating baked beans, Tharg would actually levitate...
 
 I bet this was a big job...

"Once the scene is composed and camera angle locked down, the elements are saved out as separate layers for painting in Photoshop."


Tharg coughed up the mother of hairballs...

"Originally I had the idea of some Thrill suckers  in there too and built one in 3D, but dropped it because it may have over cluttered the image slightly."
  


 Looks like Alex needs to update his antivirus software...

And here's the finished cover, just beautiful!

 Tharg was chuffed with his raspberry doughnut!
 
And here's how the cover looks in your local thrillmerchant! Love that Betelgeusian green logo, brilliant.  
 
 Tharg holds the recently removed sphincter muscle of an underperforming droid...
 
Another huge, huge thanks to Alex for his continued support with the blog. As ever, it's a great write up and every image is mind blowing, great! I'm sure this is going to be another contender for cover of the year, it's glorious! Be sure to check out Alex's blog for more goodies!


Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Simon Davis - Roman Vandal!


Prog 1930 sees Slaine MacRoth facing off against a Trojan army, but he didn't think it too many! This beautiful painted piece is brought to us by master painter, Simon Davis, who once again hasn't wasted a stroke. A really confident and masterful painting from the very best in the business.

Below we see Simon's sketches, it looks like the artist had a pretty good idea what he wanted from the off...

 Ouch! Never run with scissors or git big swords!
 

Slaine on the right - put that away! Dirty boy...
 

Gone fishin'

And once again, that wonderful finished piece...


"Mine's bigger than yours..."
 
And here's how the prog looks on your Thrill merchant's shelf...
 
You should see the  size of the marshmallow Slaine is cooking! 
 
Sadly, Prog 1930 sees the departure of friend of the blog Pye Parr. Pye-01 has been a constant supporter of the blog from it's very inception and has been extremely generous with his time and talent. His design work on 2000AD has been nothing short of stunning and I wish him the very, very best of luck in the next stage of his career as a freelance artist/designer and male prostitute.
 
Thanks for everything Pye!  
 
And thanks to the brilliant Simon Davis for sending the images, may his brushes never dry up!


Monday, 4 May 2015

The Hachette Job, Update...

 

The Judge Dredd Mega Collection continues apace, with two fabulously produced hardbacks gracing our shelves per month. I featured Pye Parr's eye catching designs for issues 1 - 3 here and thought I'd play catch up today with issues 4 - 9.

Above, we see a re-working of Brian Bolland's iconic cover of Prog 1505 for the 'Origins' epic which of course, was Wagner and Ezquerra's essential story of the book. This definitive tale sees Dredd in the Cursed Earth, recounting the events that led to the formation of the Justice Department. Essential reading for any Dredd fan.

Also that month, we got 'Shamballa' by Alan Grant and Arthur Ranson, which explores the spiritual side of the Dreddverse...

"Erm... is it the three of hearts?"

Issues 6 and 7 saw 'Mandroid' and 'The Heavy Mob' respectively. Mandroid boasts magnificent artwork by fan favourite Kev Walker as well as some of John Wagner's bleakest writing yet. Such is the talent of Kev Walker, the cover simply features a panel from the strip. The only other time I can recall this happening was with Joe Pineapples' saucy cover of Prog 787, again by Walker...

Return of the living Dredd

'The Heavy Mob' is an eclectic mix of stories focusing on some of the Heavily Armoured Divisions of the Justice Department. The cover of this collection sees a re-working of Dylan Teague's cover to 2000AD Extreme Edition, issue 17...

Someone really needs to vac up... 

Issues 8 features the classic epic 'The Cursed Earth' and naturally features a reworking of Mick McMahon's fan favourite cover of Prog 85...

Dredd always got mouthy after a drink...

Where as number 9 features some of Devlin Waugh's excellent adventures, with this most phallic of covers. Blimey guvnor!



Hmmmm, Pye could have used the Red Eye filter on poor Devlin there...

Soon premium subscribers should be receiving their premium prints, the first by the powerhouse that is Henry Flint, just look at it, a thing of beauty!

 Dredd visits Lilliput City One.
Here's the inks for the piece too...
 

Flint channels his inner Manara with a gratuitous crotch shot, disgusting!
 
I'm working on getting us a 'clean' version of the spine image to ogle, but here's a decent-ish sized view to keep us going for now...

The Unusual Suspects...
 
I'm absolutely loving the Judge Dredd Mega Collection and can't wait to have the full collection groaning on my bookshelf! If you haven't already subscribed, do so now! 


Friday, 1 May 2015

Ryan Brown - Smokin'!


Yes!!! I've been following Ryan Brown's amazing work for a while now so I'm delighted to see him get his own 2000AD cover. Over the last couple of years we've seen him colour the work of heavyweights such as Greg Staples, Simon Bisley and Glenn Fabry but the cover of Prog 1929 is all Ryan, and it's a drokking corker!

Ryan was kind enough to send some zarjaz images and some insight into his process. He said "I start with a few scribbles on paper, very very rough, the kind that goes straight in the bin afterwards so no one ever sees them! Next I get a few reference images or sometimes take my own reference images..."

Ha! Next time Ryan must send some of those! He continues "After that I go straight to painting on Photoshop. I work really rough at first, trying to get the overall shape. It's almost like working in clay rather than lines, if you know what I mean."

So here's Ryan's clay-like rough...


The cover in drunk-o-vision

Ryan continues "I like to paint in Photoshop using the standard brush and try and keep it as close to traditional as possible."

And again, here's that startling finished image, brilliant!

That's the last time the Jehovah's Witnesses will knock on Dredd's door.


Over on his Deviant Art page, Ryan has been delighting us with some outstanding 2000AD related images over the last few months. Below is a gloriously grim headshot of everybody's favourite grump...


 Old Twisty Face
 
And another excellent Dredd, I really like the design of his gloves on this.
 

Dredd is seriously packing here, and I'm not talking about his guns...

Then there's this delightfully trippy Mean Machine and Anderson...

Anderson tried a stint as living furniture after leaving Psi-Div...

And Ryan's newest piece is this astonishing Munch-esque, Judge Death!

 The Sssssssscream

Here's a wonderful image of everyone's sweet transistor, Joe Pineapples rocking a lovely pink bodysuit...

Joe's cyber-mam always stitched a name tag on his jacket
 
Ryan is keen to give props to some of the heavyweight artists he's worked with in the past. He says "I'd like to mention that I've been privileged to work with some of the greats. Simon Bisley, Glenn Fabry, Greg Staples, Liam Sharp and Matt Wagner. All of them are incredibly inspiring artists and lovely people."

It would be rude not to celebrate some of those collaborations, so let's start with one of my very favourite Dredd images of recent years, Greg Staples and Ryan's outstanding Lawmaster in the rain cover for IDW's Judge Dredd Year One. This image blows me away every time!

Pissing down again!?! I hope they kept the receipt for Weather Control...

Here's the Apocalypse War themed cover for Year One, issue 2...

Mr Bomb-bastic
 
Glenn Fabry and Ryan worked on this wonderful Rogue Trooper cover for IDW, cor...

Tharg's blue eyed boy
 
And the two worked together again on the Rad to the Bone cover of MEeg 348...

 Dredd's masseuse was a bit heavy handed...
 
And here's how the cover of Prog 1929 looks in your thrill merchant, so drokking cool!
 
 Son of a gun!
 
Huge thanks to Ryan for sending the images and write up, I'm a massive fan of his work, he's definitely one of the most exciting artists I've seen in a while. Here's to many, many more covers from this talented droid!


Saturday, 25 April 2015

Mark Harrison - Spotting the Greys!


Yay, it's a Mark Harrison cover for Prog 1928! I always enjoy a cover from Mark as, like his artwork, his write-ups are always brimming with extras and cool little titbits! Mark is back on art duties for Grey Area, which has hilariously seen our heroes trapped in immigration on the doomed planet of Homeworld.
 
Over to Mark to tell us more "This was another "I knew exactly what I wanted from the get-go" cover. Tharg wanted the Grey Area team on the cover, possibly surrounded by aliens and I recall those great covers in the past by Brian Bolland and Colin MacNeil of a character surrounded by a crowd..."

 
 Walter got on the cover by bwibing Tharg with that polystyrene cup...
 
 Sniff! Painful memories...
 
"Here I wanted to deliberately play with colour and have a pun to boot; namely the "Grey Area" is literally a grey palette, the only colour being provided by the role reversal of the team. They are hemmed in, alone in this part of the galaxy, feeling vulnerable, defiant, and Kymn has got a sense of the horror yet to come."
 
Here's Mark's sketch for the cover, it looks like a night out in Newcastle...
 

The Dean Gaffney appreciation society meeting 
 
Mark talked about the fantastic way in which the story opened, back in Prog 1924 "I loved the concept that Dan came up with, that he found a way to flip the roles and have the ETC officers as the "aliens". It was a tricky first episode to do, mostly with silhouettes. Even had the Logo for "Grey Area" in an alien language to slightly baffle the reader."
 
"It's actually Kilngon; I had no idea that one of those online language translators did Klingon!  There was a brief internal debate as to whether this breached any kind of copyright, but it turns out you can't copyright letters- even made up ones and especially used as words."
 
Ifra Exre, one of my favourites!
 
"Behold! This Grey Area strip is actually... Grey Area!" (Dun, dun, duuuuuuun!" 
 
"Kinda disappointed the page layout of the final comic and introduction robbed the strip of the surprise factor; we really wanted the readers to be scratching their heads and have this slowly dawn on them and have the reveal this wasn't earth ETC you were following in silhouette but alien!
But hey, that's life in the big world of comics..."
 
"On the cover my fave bit is the little furry alien humping a nervous Birdies leg. I had it do the same to a War of the Worlds alien in last weeks episode in the food line up but it was probably too subtle. I've been having fun adding little nuances to the alien life and not just making it a cavalcade of weird faces and body shapes."
 
The 2000AD version of Nine and a Half Weeks...
 
Spoiler warning - there is some top quality leg humping to climax in this weeks' prog, disgusting!
 
 "Gnuht!" indeed!
 
"I try to imbue the background characters with a sense of daily life, as if there is another story going on there, such as betting on the outcome of something bothering the foreground characters. The  sound effects (Richard Corben influence), shouts, calls, a vibrant place in a world of comfortable entropy."
 
"If I had more time I'd make more of a thread of these things. The inspiration comes from the Studio Ghibli films like Spirited Away where you see minor characters doing their own thing in a corner of the frame."
 
How Oxy-10 spot cream actually works.
 
 Dimento is a bit demented!
 
As an extremely experienced concept artist, Mark is incredibly adept at world building, just check out some of his concept work on his site, it's amazing!
 
He says "World building is something I love doing on the stories I've worked on. This current run of Grey Area is no different. The Idea for the Harmonious Free was sort of Hippie culture Native American (Hopi tribe), very laid back, sunbathing, in touch with nature and each other through telepathy and telekinesis. I did a bit of research and  chose the three figured hand as the races icon which in itself is derived from the similar looking "Hand Nebula" that dominates the sky (okay- there's a bit of Logan's Run ref there too!)"
 
"The HF don't do much in the way of maintenance of their cities or infrastructure; there is a "It was it's time to fail" attitude so most of the city is crumbling and the Grey Area is located in ruins or retrofitted parts of the city."
 
 
What a shithole 
 
"Also, looking to ancient cultures, I was surprised how sex obsessed most of the imagery is. Everything is phallic or vaginal. So I put that into the strip too in buildings, doorways, clothing, etc.
Hopefully it hasn't been too obvious and detracted too much from the strip. ;)  Actually the nudity was carefully discussed as I wanted to go even more with decorative codpieces but we toned it back.  I hope I've struck a non-sexual National Geographic tone. This is an alien race with different values.
It's not smut it's culture will be my defense which dovetails nicely with my other response "It's not porn, its reference!" (Try claiming THAT as a Tax expense!)" I've tried - Pete.
 
"Art wise it's a lovely learning process as I become more confident in "Spotting the blacks". I've  come to realise the brilliance and skill needed to pull off silhouettes and shadow work in comics which you will see more of in my work. That's what I love about this job and working for 2000 AD. It allows you to develop and try new things (Like this Guardians of the Galaxy wallpaper I did for myself- love that film!)"
 

"I am Groot!" 
 
"I'm always learning and at my age that's pretty wonderful. Maybe I should just settle on a style (and get good at it!) but I just love the process. It's a new challenge every script  such as the latest one I have in front of me now which will have me referencing a favourite artist  from the past, Brian Lewis (as a sort of homage) Disgorged Nightmare Vision! No one will probably get it but that doesn't matter- it makes me happy!"
 
For those unsure of Brian's work, here are a couple of fantastic examples...
 
Amazing!
 
A Quatermass debate
 
"I've always liked doing that,  throwing in in-jokes, monsters and aliens from the classic  film and TV of my past. If you think that looks like a Morlock from the Time Machine or a Draconian from Doctor Who you're probably right!"
 
 So once again, here's that brilliant cover...
 

 The clientele of your average comic shop
 
And here's how the cover looks on your local Thrillshelf... 
 
 Yay, they used Mark's tagline!
 
Mark also go in touch to berate himself for his cover being too similar to this Best of 2000AD Special Edition back in 2000. I say poppycock!

 Hey Nemesis, no smoking!
 
Mark has also been hard at work on the most recent Zarjaz cover, but it NOW citizens!  http://www.futurequake.co.uk/shop.php 
 
 Deadworld REALLY needs a good hovering...
 
Huuuuge thanks to Mark for sending his fascinating commentary and pictures. PLEASE go over to his site and look at some of his work, it's superb. Here are some highlights, starting with a Dredd movie Dark Judges concept...
 
 
Hooligans 
 
A 2000AD girlband...
 
 Space Girls Reunion 2345
 
This Ord Mantell concept for Star Wars Battlefront is amazing!
 

Fascinating Dredd concepts from the Dredd vs Zombies game (I assume?)

They forgot sock down the front of the bodysuit 

And a brilliant study of a new strain of the 2T(Fru) T virus that affects robots!

 The cure was to turn it off and then on again.
 
And finally a lovely Nemesis and Purity illustration, lovely!  


Like a Warlock on my back...